Where to stay
Get ready to call it a night in one of the best places in the Yellowstone.
Old Faithful Inn
Lavish accommodations almost seem counterintuitive to the outdoor ethos of national parks, but this inn carries the entire history of Western park architecture (park-itecture) within it, dating back to 1904 (over a decade before the park system was even established).
Where to enjoy a cold one
Because we both know that you deserve a reward after a strenuous hike, so always pack a cold one.
Finish off your day of exploration with a night cap at the Roosevelt Lodge Historic District, a collection of buildings dating back to 1919. Sit by the charming fireplace, Montana distilled whiskey in hand, and converse with other lodge patrons visiting from all over the world.
If you're only gonna see one thing while you're here, make it this thing.
Yellowstone is replete with must-see destinations, but the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, no matter how many times I see it, always takes my breath away. The best view of the canyon is at Artist Point, thought this spot is often overrun with tourists. To get the view to yourself, take a snow coach tour in the winter.
Where to see sunrise/sunset
If you're gonna visit a park, always make time in your agenda for sunrise & sunset!
Sunrise and sunset in Yellowstone mean more than just picturesque lighting: it means wildlife. Animals are more likely to be sighted at these times and, because of this, I’d recommend the Lamar Valley, a lower elevation in the park that can be filled with thousands of bison at a time (especially in winter).
Shh! Don't tell too many people, but here's the insider's favorite place.
The Boiling River
Though this spot isn’t entirely a secret and can be quite busy, it’s not advertised by the park and doesn’t have signage indicating its location. This is a spot where you can sit in the Gardiner River, fed by geothermal water, making a hot tub-like temperature. Find this location just north of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Where to hike
Sometimes the best views take a bit of work.
Seven Mile Hole
This is one of those tricky hikes that starts with the descent and ends with the ascent, hence the name: it’s five miles in but feels like seven miles out. This hike initially leads you through a stand of lodgepole pine, then geothermal activity, and ends at the base of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, offering coveted solitude at the river.
Where to refuel
Eating & drinking is just as important as camping & hiking.
Livingston Mark's In & Out
Many gateway towns surround Yellowstone, including those of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. My favorite place to eat amongst them has always been Mark’s In and Out, found in the quaint fly fishing town of Livingston, Montana, offering high-quality burgers, fries, fried mushrooms, and shakes. Bring cash though—that’s all they take!
You didn't actually visit the park if you didn't get a selfie in front of something iconic ;)
Grand Prismatic Spring
Opposed to popular belief, this is not with a bison—please respect the wildlife while in the park. For a great selfie, head to Grand Prismatic Spring, perhaps the most iconic hot spring in Yellowstone. This location will offer a backdrop of unbelievable hues swirled together in a cornucopia of burnt orange, dirt brown, azure blue, and beryl green.
Every park has a somethin' radical to get yourself into.
Every year, during the month of April, the park opens its roads to pedestrians and cyclists only. I’d suggest the route from West Yellowstone to Madison Junction as it is a smooth ride, along the river, and offers great views of wildlife (bison, elk, river otters, bald eagles, etc.).
Quintessential Scenic Drive
When your legs start to give out from hiking, hop in your car and go for a drive!
Though not technically a part of the park, this road will lead you from Red Lodge to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone. This area should have been included in the park though, giving high-altitude vistas of glacier-carved mountains—one of the best drives in America.